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US Soccer Team Set for World Cup

The final 23-man roster for the U.S. World Cup soccer team has been unveiled. VOA's Jim Stevenson reports the squad is a blend of veterans and newcomers who will play in Germany in June.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena named 12 players Tuesday who were part of the successful 2002 World Cup squad that reached the quarterfinals in South Korea and Japan, the best showing by the United States since 1930.

Arena added 11 players who are joining the team for the first time. Overall, 12 of the players come from European clubs, and 11 from U.S. Major League Soccer, exactly the same mix as the 2002 roster. Arena says with a large pool of quality players, the selections became very difficult.

"The negative part for me is simply that we have to tell some players that arguably belong on this roster or can be on this roster that they are not going to be a part of it," he said. "So it was difficult. But I think the decisions for the most part were fairly challenging for every position."

Veteran goalkeeper Kasey Keller is the oldest player at 36. He is making U.S. record fourth World Cup appearance along with captain Claudio Reyna. The youngest player is 22-year-old Eddie Johnson, a newcomer from Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena says he expects the group to come together well in the month before the World Cup.

"With a good training camp and good preparations games and the right mental approach, our team will be a team that is going to challenge anybody on the field in this World Cup," he said.

The U.S. team's final training camp opens May 10 in Cary, North Carolina. At the World Cup in Germany, the United States opens against the Czech Republic on June 12, meets Italy five days later and closes the first round against Ghana on June 22.